ISSUE: Richmond Park
Roehampton rat running fear if Robin Hood Gate closure goes ahead
Up to 700 extra vehicles an hour could be forced onto residential roads in Roehampton if a Government quango goes ahead with its threat to close Richmond Park's Robin Hood Gate.
The worst impact is likely to be felt in Alton Road which runs past a primary school and a blind people's home and could experience a 70 per cent increase in traffic volumes during the morning peak hour.
The route is already used as a rat run by town-bound drivers on the A3 aiming to avoid the queues at the Roehampton Lane junction. Even before the latest announcement the council had been pressing the Mayor of London to introduce morning restrictions on vehicles entering Alton Road.
Now Wandsworth councillors are set to join with their counterparts in Kingston in opposing the closure of the nearby access point to the park which Royal Parks bosses want to impose in March.
Other parts of Roehampton set to suffer from diverted traffic include Roehampton Lane, Clarence Lane and Priory Lane. The additional congestion is also expected to hit journey times on five local bus routes.
The Robin Hood closure plan follows publication in October 2000 of a series of gate closures designed to remove through traffic from the park.
Wandsworth Council led the criticism of the consultation arrangements and campaigned successfully for the addition of a 'no change' option for local residents wanting to preserve the traditional access to the park.
Now even though the majority of those responding opposed any gate closures parks officials have come back with a scheme to stop cars entering at Robin Hood Gate.
Under the plan Pen Ponds car park at the heart of the park would also close. This is currently the only way elderly visitors and others with disabilities can realistically enjoy one of the most attractive parts of the whole park.
Details of a proposed 'land train' promised as an alternative means of access to the ponds have yet to emerge. The service is only expected to run at weekends.
Cabinet member for regeneration and transport Kathy Tracey said the Royal Parks had had done no work on the effects of the closure on surrounding roads:
"Their original consultation was a sham. Now having backed down on nearly all their original closure plans they are trying to force through this single closure without any proper research on its likely impact. They admit that the Robin Hood Gate closure will only cut traffic in the park by five per cent. Yet they clearly believe that this justifies the much greater disruption for Roehampton residents. Wandsworth will work with Kingston to oppose these plans which will bring misery and environmental mayhem to thousands of Roehampton residents."
The council's regeneration and transport overview and scrutiny committee will examine the latest proposals for the park at its meeting on Thursday (February 21).
February 21, 2002